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Orphan Barrel Barterhouse 20 Year Old

Oliver and The Artful Dodger Part I

0 986

@talexanderReview by @talexander

14th Aug 2014

0

  • Nose
    23
  • Taste
    21
  • Finish
    20
  • Balance
    22
  • Overall
    86

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Distribution of ratings for this: user

  • Brand: Orphan Barrel
  • ABV: 45.1%

The Orphan Barrel whiskies are limited releases by Diageo, of rare whiskies from their warehouses (though, interestingly, not necessarily from Diageo-owned distilleries - so we do not know from whence they came). I guess it's the old "Hey, looky here! I found me some forgotten barrels o' hooch in the corner here! Yeehaw!" Sigh. And if you go on the website, that's pretty much what they're saying and how they're saying it (ugh). I mean, c'mon - if that were true, then how would they know that both of these bottlings have a mashbill of 86% corn, 8% barley and 6% rye? They are hand bottled in Tullahoma, Tennessee. I'm reviewing the first two releases here (both bourbons, and both samples courtesy of @thecyclingyogi), the first one being Barterhouse 20 Year Old.

The colour is a semi-dark copper. On the nose, surprisingly gentle - very light caramel and vanilla, with predominantly honey, peach and butter cream notes. The oak is certainly there but it's not overwhelming in the slightest. Cotton candy at the fairground. John Hansell noted "orange creamsicle," which is bang on. Water brings out more oak and a tannic note. Lovely.

On the palate, darker honey and tropical fruits - this is the lightest 20 year old bourbon you've ever had! Lacks complexity in the mouth but it is smooth, creamy and luxurious. Water helps a lot though, adding some bite with liquorice and savoury herbs.

The rather short-ish finish has more "orange creamsicle" with oak, white pepper and tobacco. This is a very approachable, easy-to-drink bourbon. I can't believe it has spent 20 years in new white American oak. More complex on the nose than on the palate - to me it doesn't quite reach the heights I thought it might. Hansell scores this one a 90; myself, not quite so much but good enough to warrant the $US75 price tag (if you can find it).

9 comments

@Victor
Victor commented

86% corn? Tullahoma? ...Dickel (a brand currently owned by Diageo).

I saw this in a liquor store today. I can wait.

6 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

I don't know if it was distilled at Dickel - I'm guessing unlikely as it doesn't taste anything like a Tennessee whisky. Unless for some reason this batch skipped the charcoal filtering, but why would they do that?

6 years ago 0

@Victor
Victor commented

A US whiskey is supposed to be called 'corn whiskey' if it contains 80% or more corn, except that Tennessee whiskey gets arounds that by its unique name 'Tennessee whiskey'. There are a couple of new Tennessee whiskeys besides 'Jack' and 'George', but even Jack and George taste to me quite a bit different from one another,...and even the various expressions of George Dickel alone taste to me quite a bit different from one another. I have read of corn content above 80% for George Dickel, and the Dickel Barrel Select certainly tastes that way to me.

I haven't tasted this product, so I don't have an opinion as to whether it tastes like it was sugar maple charcoal filtered. As to whether there could be unfiltered whiskey distilled at George Dickel, isn't the "Lincoln County Process" of maple charcoal filtration administered just prior to bottling? If they left a barrel lying around for 20 years and decided to bottle it there is no law against leaving a Tennessee-produced whiskey unfiltered and selling it as either bourbon or corn whiskey, and not 'Tennessee whiskey'. But because this is reported to be 86% corn content, they really should not be calling it bourbon.

As for where it is distilled, Tullahoma is the location of the George Dickel distillery, after all.

6 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

According to Wikipedia (and I know that can be an inaccurate source, but I'm at work and don't have time to dig deeper), corn whiskey has to be at least 80% corn, and bourbon at least 51% corn. But I don't see anything that says a whiskey HAS to be called corn whiskey if it's over 80% corn. I don't think they could put bourbon on the bottle if they legally weren't allowed to. Perhaps they could have legally put either, but of course it makes sense to label it bourbon...

Also according to Wikipedia, Tennessee whiskey is charcoal filtered prior to being filled in casks (I had thought so, as I've seen pictures and it is definitely a clear liquid being dripped into the charcoal). The marketing materials say that the whiskey is bottled in Tullahoma, but not necessarily distilled there. Although I agree that Jack Daniel's and George Dickel taste somewhat different, they both share flavor characteristics that most bourbons do not. I'm pretty damn certain that Barterhouse was not dripped through charcoal, just based on the flavor. So I'm sure this was not distilled at Dickel (unless they kept casks of non-filtered whiskey lying around for over 20 years), though it was probably bottled either there or wherever Dickel is bottled, if Dickel is bottled in Tullahoma.

6 years ago 0

@Nock
Nock commented

Barterhouse was distilled at the current Bernheim distillery, stored at Stitzel-Weller, and bottled at the Dickel distillery.

Old Blowhard was distilled at the Old Bernheim distillery, stored at Stitzel-Weller, and bottled at Dickel.

I have passed on the opportunity for both of these on several occasions. The price is just too much for what seems like mediocre – while highly marketed – bourbon. However, I appreciate reading your take. Thanks.

6 years ago 0

@ABV
ABV commented

Late to the forum, however I saw the Barterhouse, Gifted Horse, and Forged Oak at the Navy Exchanges in Norfolk/Virginia Beach yesterday and just couldn't bring myself to buy the hype. 15, 20 none are from the Pappy era at S-W, they are post 1993. I went with Laphroaig cask strength and Cairdeas 200th Anniversaries instead. Good decision?

4 years ago 0

@talexander
talexander commented

@ABV, Laphroaig is always a good decision!

4 years ago 0

@ABV
ABV commented

Thank you talexander.

4 years ago 0

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